I wish people wouldn’t take liberties with my social network

By June 7, 2012 2 Comments

I spent some time yesterday updating the background on my Twitter page. I was looking for something that was a little edgy and subtly indicated London, and I like where I ended up. It’s from a picture by London graffiti artist Banksy of a girl losing her heart shape balloon. Go take a look and let me know what you think.

The journey to get there wasn’t so good though.

It started fine. I found a surprisingly large number of sites offering free Twitter backgrounds, and better still they connected directly with Twitter putting up my choice of new background via the Twitter API. I found one background I liked, put that up, but discovered that it render well with some screens having a blank white space down the right hand side. So I searched some more before finding the Banksy that I went with in the end.

At this point I was very happy.

Then I switched focus to crunch some email and saw notifications that a bunch of people had retweeted Tweets from me promoting the sites which I had used to get the two new Twitter backgrounds described above. I had authorised them to connect with Twitter so they could put my new backgrounds up and they had sent Tweets on my behalf without asking me if I was ok with that. I’ve embedded one example below.

Aside from not asking my permission before Tweeting this is bad because it advertises the comapny’s freelance design service not the Twitter background service I used them for, and worse still, it almost begs my followers to ReTweet. (And now I’ve reproduced their spam ad again…)

I guess I should have known this might happen and I will be more careful in future. But I also think that Twitter could have done more to protect me.

My experience yesterday seems to be getting more and more common. Last week I tweeted a link to this great list of annoying ways that people’s social networks get abused.

I understand that folks are providing services for free and looking to get a bit of value in return. That’s fine so long as the exchange is explicit and permission is given. What isn’t fine is when someone gives me something and then takes something back without asking. That’s not cool, and I predict a backlash.